Whether you prefer an upscale wine shop or a discount liquor stores, your next booze run just got whole a lot better. At these top shops for wine, beer and spirits, you can pick up a bottle or six-pack to take to BYOB Chicago restaurants without intimidation. In fact, the staff at these stores cannot wait to gush about their favorite craft beer, locally made gin or bottles of wine that are priced well below what you'd pay at a wine bar. Want to expand your booze knowledge? Many of these stores offer weekly tastings and even classes.
Best liquor stores
Whether you consider yourself an expert in liquor or don't know the difference between bourbon and rye, you will be well taken care of (and not judged) at this Edgewater liquor and wine shop. Don't miss the extensive selection of bitters and local spirits—the shop specializes in small batch varieties including amaros and bitters and other liquors you'll have a hard time finding other places.
At this borderline big box, you won’t always get five-star service, but you will get a ridonkulous selection of beer, wine and spirits—not to mention classes, tastings and samples. It’s the Costco model and we can’t complain. Neither can our Midwest relatives who are known to drive six hours just to stock their liquor cabinets. Bonus for the Orthodox set: Binny’s boasts a sizable selection of kosher booze.
Although this Brighton Park go-to is known as "the tequila oasis," don't be fooled—you can find just about anything you're looking for at this family-owned store. After taking the reins of the family shop in the '90s, owners Pete and Vicki Douvlis have recently expanded to include a craft beer selection (more than 420 bottles) that will please even the pickiest of beer snobs. If you're more into the hard stuff, you'll find plenty of craft bourbon labels, tequila and much more. This place has already developed an underground following of bartenders and restaurateurs, but consider the cat officially out of the bag.
This Wicker Park neighborhood "brewtique" opened in place of "Life's a Cabernet" after it was officially taken over by employee and sommelier Janel Syron. The liquor store has a wide selection craft beers (including plenty of local brews), wine (most bottles around $20 or less), as well as craft spirits, making it the perfect pre-BYOB date night pit-stop.
If you’re not familiar with the glorious convenience of “the slashie” (a.k.a. liquor store/bar), this old-man haunt is a good introduction. Sure, it looks like your average corner store: cases of beer, liquor and cheap wine surround retail shelves stocked with junk food in a fluorescent-lit room. But wander toward the dimly lit back of the store and you’ll find yourself in bar country wondering whether you should have a couple before heading home with a fresh six-pack.
With coolers in back and rows of bottles up front—and perhaps, as on our visit, a staffer perched atop a pile of boxes, chowing down on his lunch—this liquor shop has a standard setup and a casual feel. The store specializes, of course, in Asian liquors, and the wine selection is peppered with lychee liquor, Chinese wine and sparkling pink sake. Perhaps more hard-to-find still: Hello Kitty sparkling rose wine.
Best BYOB restaurants in Chicago
The best BYOBs in the city deserve equally great pairings: Here are our favorite spots by cuisine, plus expert advice on which beer and wine style harmoniously matches with everything from Mixteco Grill's chocolatey mole to, well, whatever wacky dish Schwa comes up with.